Genre knowledge in disciplinary communication: cognition/culture/power

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L. Erlbaum Associates, 1995 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 190 pages
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Although genre studies abound in literary criticism, researchers and scholars interested in the social contexts of literacy have recently become interested in the dynamic, rhetorical dimensions of speech genres. Within this burgeoning scholarly community, the authors are among the first researchers working within social science traditions to study genre from the perspective of the implicit knowledge of language users. Thus, this is the first sociocognitive study of genre using case-study, naturalistic research methods combined with the techniques of rhetorical and discourse analysis. The term "genre knowledge" refers to an individual's repertoire of situationally appropriate responses to recurrent situations -- from immediate encounters to distanced communication through the medium of print, and more recently, the electronic media. One way to study the textual character of disciplinary knowledge is to examine both the situated actions of writers, and the communicative systems in which disciplinary actors participate. These two perspectives are presented in this book.
The authors' studies of disciplinary communication examine operations of systems as diverse as peer review in scientific publications and language in a first grade science classroom. The methods used include case study and ethnographic techniques, rhetorical and discourse analysis of changing features within large corpora and in the texts of individual writers. Through the use of these techniques, the authors engaged in both micro-level and macro-level analyses and developed a perspective which reflects both foci. From this perspective they propose that what micro-level studies of actors' situated actions frequently depict as "individual processes," can also be interpreted -- from the macro-level -- as "communicative acts within a discursive network or system."
The research methods and the theoretical framework presented are designed to raise provocative questions for scholars, researchers, and teachers in a number of fields: linguists who teach and conduct research in ESP and LSP and are interested in methods for studying professional communication; scholars in the fields of communication, rhetoric, and sociology of science with an interest in the textual dynamics of scientific and scholarly communities; educational researchers interested in cognition in context; and composition scholars interested in writing in the disciplines.

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About the author (1995)

Christine A. Hult received both her B.A. and M.A. in English from the University of Idaho and her Ph.D. in English and Education from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. In addition to freshman composition, she has taught numerous courses, including research writing, computers in composition, ESL, and composition for teachers. Dr. Hult has taught at the University of Michigan, where she also acted as the Assistant Director to Introductory Composition, and at Texas Tech University, where she was the Director of Composition and Rhetoric. Since 1985, she has been at Utah State University, where she has served as the Director of Writing and is currently the Associate Department Head as well as the Director of the Computer Classroom.

Academic awards and honors include the Outstanding Faculty Award from Phi Eta Sigma/Alpha Lambda Delta (the Freshman Honor Society) at Texas Tech University, 1985; Humanist of the Year Award, Utah State University, 1995 and 1999; Professor of the Year Award, Utah State University, 2000; and the Ellen Nold Best Article Award for Computers and Composition journal, 1996. Dr. Hult has published many articles, papers, and books, including "Evaluating Teachers of Writing and Researching" and "Writing Across the Curriculum."

Thomas N. Huckin received his A.B. in English from Princeton University, and both his M.A. in Comparative Literature and Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Washington. He has taught courses in freshman composition, technical and professional writing, discourse analysis, stylistics, and applied linguistics at several institutions.

While at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, he co-founded the Department of HumanitiesSummer Conference on "Teaching Scientific and Technical English to Non-Native Speakers" and founded the Oral Communications Program at General Motors Research Laboratories, where he directed a program of individualized English instruction for foreign-born scientists. He spent six years at Carnegie Mellon University as Director of the ESL Program and was a Senior Fulbright Lecturer at Pontificia Universidade Catolica in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He currently teaches at The University of Utah, where he served as the Writing Program Director from 1990-1995.

Dr. Huckin has won numerous awards, including the 1996 NCTE Best Book Award in Technical and Scientific Communication for Genre Knowledge in Disciplinary Communication. He was also designated Lowell Bennion Public Service Professor for 1995-96. He has written several books, including "Technical Writing and Professional Communication" and "Technical Writing and Professional Communication for Non-Native Speakers of English.

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